Gran Turismo World Series: Back on Track?

Gran Turismo Global Collection: Again on Monitor?

Photo by Roger Sieber

We haven’t recently sat down to examine the Gran Turismo World Series critically. The event in Sydney, Australia, which had an unforgettable and stunning blend of racing action, atmosphere, and production value, set the bar high. GTWS had plenty of momentum and storylines to carry it into the upcoming year.

Unfortunately, the year 2020 turned out to be a disaster when the world’s events flipped almost everything upside-down. The World Series was conducted virtually for the following two years because there was nothing the Gran Turismo events team could do. The pre-recorded virtual tournaments made an admirable effort, but they lacked the ambiance that had made the World Series so exceptional and captivating.

Last year saw the return of live events, and although it was unquestionably a welcome return to routine, it was still lacking a crucial component that had made some of the earlier events so compelling: live crowds. Is the GT World Series finally on track after the last missing piece of the puzzle was found during the most recent race in Amsterdam?

Let’s look more closely at what the GT World Series Amsterdam did well and where it failed.

Photo by Roger Sieber

Event Production

One thing is clear: Gran Turismo’s events team is still the best in the business.

The Theater Amsterdam location was eye-catching, contemporary, and distinctly “Gran Turismo”. A huge projection screen that wrapped around the inside of the auditorium dramatically opened to let the contestants and hosts take the stage.

Photo by Roger Sieber
Photo by Roger Sieber

Tom Brooks, Jimmy Broadbent, and Julia Hardy have established chemistry by this stage. This continuity is also visible in the crew, since nearly all of the original members that worked on the initial Gran Turismo World Tour events are still present.

Photo by Roger Sieber
Photo by Roger Sieber

They are aware of what to do, how to do it, and how to collaborate. Everyone involved put on a remarkable performance that significantly contributes to making these events and broadcasts a reality.

Photo by Roger Sieber

Live Crowds

The significance of live crowds for big events was never in question, but Amsterdam really brought it home. You could tell that this was the first World Series to be broadcast live since Sydney.

You are reminded that you are at a sporting event and not just a spectacle by the crowd’s cheers. Additionally, the contestants draw strength and support from the spectators, which fosters an environment that is incomparably unique.

Photo by Roger Sieber

Of course, when local drivers perform well, the mood is at its best. In my mind, some particularly memorable events are the spectators shouting for Coque Lopez in Madrid in 2018, the Australians supporting Cody Latkovski in Sydney in 2020, and the Dutch screaming for their team during close matches with the Belgians.

Things could get rowdier than ever for the championship race if Spanish drivers continue to be in top form. The 2023 World Finals are scheduled to be hosted in Barcelona, and spectators are likely to be welcomed.

There may not be a greater platform to showcase new content than World Series events, and Polyphony Digital is fortunate to have an obsessive fanbase that demands an early peek at any new content coming to the most recent Gran Turismo game.

What better way to entice viewers to watch than by placing the competitors on a new course or using new vehicles? It goes without saying that the firm wants as many people as possible to watch the live programs.

Photo by Roger Sieber

Of course, this is not a novel concept; in the past, World Series tournaments have successfully been used to tease impending material on a regular basis. As fresh video is discovered on YouTube, the live chat erupts with opinions and comments, and view counts increase as viewers invite their friends to watch. As they observe, they are more likely to be drawn into the on-track competition as well, resulting in the influx of additional viewers for the event.

Photo by Roger Sieber

There has never been a better time to introduce new material as the first major event of the year, with paying attendees in the audience and the international release of the Gran Turismo feature film on everyone’s mind. But there was nothing; not even the incredibly popular new ambulance from GT7 or the Nissan GT-R decked out in movie vehicle livery.

It was an odd omission that could have given a major event still another level of intrigue and excitement.

Photo by Roger Sieber

Nations Cup Team Format

The Nations Cup’s transition to a teams-based format was one of the more contentious modifications.

The Manufacturers Cup has long been a team competition when drivers from all around the world join forces to represent their preferred automakers. It has always been a little more difficult to follow, even though it theoretically has equal status with the Nations Cup.

Most observers can typically predict which manufacturers will place first based on Balance-of-Performance tweaks and game mechanics. A “team” of drivers is formed, although they are only together for a short time, and you might not ever see them again. It’s also uncommon to observe personality consistency among the drivers because they switch teams every year.

Photo by Roger Sieber

That’s what made the traditional Nations Cup format more compelling — and popular.

With a consistent crop of drivers at each event, you can see their individual talents and personalities shine, and you can connect with them on a personal level. Storylines, rivalries, and narratives were easier to follow, and viewers (and the media) could chart their performance over time. All those charming advantages evaporate with a team-based Nations Cup format, and the competition loses some of the consistency it worked so hard to build.

Photo by Roger Sieber
Photo by Roger Sieber

That’s not to say the Nations Cup team model wasn’t successful; it has many advantages of its own, and I enjoyed seeing compatriots from all around the world team up to represent their countries. National rivalries soon captured the attention of the audience, and the addition of team chemistry and strategy made the racing more unpredictable. But is it worthwhile to give up the conventional Nations Cup format’s regularity and simplicity? In my opinion, no.

Back on Track?

Photo by Roger Sieber

Has the Gran Turismo World Series resumed?

The obvious response is yes: the series’ fundamentals—a skilled production team, a gorgeous game, broadcasts of TV-caliber, and a superb field of competitors hungry to race—remain stronger than ever. The World Series has every opportunity to start a promising new saga.

Nevertheless, it irritates me when possibilities to provide fresh material are passed up when they may help the series reach a larger audience. Additionally, although though it is great to see the producers experimenting with various racing and competition formats, they must be careful not to overly alter the formula. The future course of the World Series will be exciting to watch.

Bring on Barcelona!

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